Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Friendly Note to Parents of Adorable Children

Dear friends who are parents,

Please post pictures of your kids on Facebook and even send me pictures by e-mail (so old-school, I know). Cute baby pictures are awesome and never fail to make me smile (and you obviously all have adorable babies).

Please tell me funny baby stories. But I mean objectively funny, not funny because you're the parent so anything the kid does is awesome. If your baby's first sentence was "No, no, not that" when asked if he wanted to go to bed, that's hilarious. If your kid's first word was "mama" and his first solid food was green beans, that's great, but I really don't need to know. 

Please do not tell me any stories that involve the child's bottom. I don't want to know about the contents of the kid's diaper and I don't want to know about remedies for constipation. And while we're on that topic, nothing involving diapers is an appropriate topic for the dinner table. Also, spit-up, throw-up, and any other bodily functions. They're not cute just because they're coming out of a baby.

Please do not expect me to be best friends with your kid just because I am friends with you. I would love to hold your baby or read a book to your 2-year-old or play a game with your 5-year-old. But that's pretty much as interested as I am. And if the kid wants nothing to do with me, that's fine, but I am not going to make every effort to get to know a child who will forget me the minute I walk out the door and who cries every time I so much as look at her.

But cute baby pictures—keep those coming.

And I reserve the right to take this all back when I have kids of my own.


Wednesday, July 03, 2013

On Modesty

Two articles I came across recently about tzniut that resonated with me:

Rabbi Eliyahu Fink's discussion of tzniut. 

There are two Judaisms. There is the Judaism between Jew and God and there is the Judaism between Jew and fellow Jew. They are not always the same thing. 
Tznius is a good example of this. One can be dressed very respectfully, modestly, and Godly but still not follow the laws of tznius as they are practiced in orthodox Judaism today. Conversely, one can follow the letter of the law of tznius and be the complete opposite of Godly. We all know this is true. ... 
In our hearts we must know that in theory our goal is to be Godly in a way that is not intended nor should it ever be interpreted as a way to control women, burden women with the brunt of dealing with man's animalism, some new-agey feminist form of liberation, or the fundamental way women serve God.

And a blog post my Mayim Bialik about finding an Emmys dress (it's an old post, but I just found it).

If I can't cover all the way to the elbow this year, God help me I will do it next year. And while we're on the topic of God, I don't think God will strike me down for not covering my left arm up. My dedication to a life of tznius gives me structure, makes me feel protected in a world that often violates, and allows me to have control over who sees what part of me, when, and how. And I am grateful to the God of my understanding for allowing me to grow slowly, gently, and gracefully.

I like that in both of these there is a sense that being tzanua is not merely nor just about following rules that dictate exactly what to cover and that it is not just for women nor is it how Jewish women should be defined. I also like the recognition that God is not measuring hemlines and collars, even if our peers are, that God is not in the business of smiting people for not being perfect, and that our practice of tzniut can evolve.